Am I my brother’s keeper?
Cain asked this question. After he killed his brother, God asked him where his brother was. Cain tried a diversion tactic; he answered God’s question with a question of his own. Am I my brother’s keeper?* My sister’s keeper? My sibling’s keeper? The diversion didn’t work. Cain didn’t evade responsibility by suggesting that he wasn’t responsible. In fact, the biblical narrative answers Cain’s question over and over again with a resounding YES. We human beings are connected one to another. We are in this life together. We bear responsibility for one another.
If we missed that message in the stories of the Old Testament and in the words of the prophets (it’s hard to miss, but sometimes we do), Jesus drives the message home over and over again.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Our Baptismal Covenant echoes the theme: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” We answer with a hearty, “I will, with God’s help.”
We love our neighbor through concrete action that supports, protects and aids that neighbor as it draws us into deeper relationship with God and each other.
We are called to such concrete love in a vital and necessary way right now. Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire again. As of yesterday, the number of new infections has risen to 51,000 per day, more than four times the rate of a month ago. At this rate, we may again see overflowing hospitals, exhausted healthcare workers, a return to pandemic closures and far too many needless deaths. It is easy to say that the Delta variant is the culprit. The truth is that vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal are to blame. Just over 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated in a country with an abundance of available vaccines. The virus is running rampant among unvaccinated people. In such fertile ground, new variants may yet develop.
We are responsible for one another. One way to bear our responsibility and protect one another now is to get vaccinated. If you haven’t received the vaccine, and unless you are unable to do so for medical reasons, please get vaccinated as soon as you can for the sake of your own health and that of your neighbors. If you have been vaccinated, talk with your family members and friends who haven’t yet been. Tell them your story of the injection and its aftermath. Listen to their hesitancy and encourage them to get vaccinated for the sake of their own health as well as that of others. Who knows but that your words will be the ones that make a difference. Who knows but that your relationship with an unvaccinated person will be the one that helps them overcome their resistance.
Am I my brother’s keeper, my sister’s keeper, my sibling’s keeper? Yes.
Get the vaccine and encourage others to do so for the sake of the love that Jesus commands us to live.